The large glass building looks out of place among the farm stands, small restaurants and strip malls along Route 50 in Glenville. To add to the inconsistency, the large sign for the restaurant is on the building in front on the right, but the building entrance is all away around the left side, opening into the main lobby where elevators, a staircase and a candy store are located. The entrance for the restaurant itself is at the far end of the lobby on the right.
Once in the door on a recent evening, the hostess/host’s desk, a disorderly line and considerable but affable noise from the bar greeted us. Dinner mate Gail wedged her way to the desk to ask about our reservations. When our names were finally located, we plowed our way to a high-topped table in the bar/lounge area. I would have been unable to access the stool, and we would have been unable to carry on a conversation over the din. After some searching, friend John saw a table at the end of a row and volunteered to sit at what might have been an uncomfortable location at the end of the table partially blocking a doorway. My mild agitation began melting away with the help of a perfect Dusty Martini.
The Glass Tavern
WHERE: 115 Saratoga Road #140, Schenectady, NY 12302, (518) 952-7443, http://www.theglasstavern.com/
WHEN: Daily bar 4 p.m.–close; dinner 5–9 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $107 for two people without alcohol, tax and tip
MORE INFO: accessible, large parking lot, major credit cards accepted, reservations suggested and available online, noise level permits conversation in dining areas
After the shaky start, the experience became smooth sailing — both food and service were outstanding.
All the tables were occupied, both inside (bar/lounge, main dining room and book-lined library) and outside in the roped off sidewalk adjacent to the front parking lot. Earlier in the week, reservations had been impossible to get.
Open less than three weeks, the restaurant has achieved a success that was attributed by server Hayden (transferred from sister restaurant The Turtle Club in Florida) to fresh food, experienced/well-trained servers and a limited menu.
The menu emphasizes quality over quantity, boasting “the freshest seafood, steaks and produce” and “Hometown Hospitality.” Hayden personified The Glass Tavern’s promise of hospitality. Ready to go the extra mile on a busy night, he patiently described our dishes and answered our questions.
The straightforward menu includes 10 categories averaging four items each. A Raw Bar featuring appetizers from Ceviche ($9) to a raw bar assortment for two ($32), and seating for six was tucked off in a corner of the restaurant. Seven dishes under Starters and Sharing included Deviled Eggs ($6) and Oysters Turtlefeller ($16).
I chose the Ceviche special which comprised small pieces of salmon, mahi, cod, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, capers and fresh lemon and lime juice. A promising beginning for a summer meal.
Gail’s Beet Salad ($6) — cubes of purple, peach and golden beets — included lettuce and wedges of bright red strawberries all sprinkled with feta cheese, making it a colorful start. John’s special salad of the day, Farmer’s Salad, was a merry blend of Bibb lettuce, oranges, sliced red peppers and shredded cheese with a refreshing lemony vinaigrette.
I rarely order a filet, yet two of the three of us ordered from the Pairs with a petit filet, Gail’s with Coconut Shrimp ($24) and mine with a half lobster topped with lump crab meat sautéed in melted butter ($30).
Both filets were exquisitely flavorful and tender, and prepared a perfect medium and medium rare, respectively.
The side dishes, red potatoes and fresh green beans, were more than adequate, although a couple of my green beans had been overcooked to an unappetizing gray. The slight flaw in no way, however, affected the flavor.
John’s (flank) steak frites ($16) had been cut into five thick slices to show that the meat was cooked to a perfect medium rare as requested.
The accompanying fries were deemed “good” according to John, but he declared, “the spinach was the best I’ve ever tasted.” I sampled a forkful and agreed.
Hayden explained there was no secret recipe — just fresh baby spinach leaves lightly sautéed in butter with a touch of salt and pepper.
The five Desserts offered ($6-7) were a gastronomic impossibility for us this particular evening, but John’s favorite (Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting) and an extravaganza called Peanut Butter Explosion will surely tempt us next time.
Although I dined with two friends, it should be noted that the tab, slipped into an old copy of Sherlock Holmes and quoted in this review, was based on only Gail’s and my dinners.